How to Become an Administrative Director


If a career as an administrative director is something you're considering, this career guide can help you answer some crucial questions that you may be asking:


• What level of education will I need?

• How much experience in roles of lesser responsibility do I need?

• What are the most important skills I'll need?

• What kind of employers are there?


Below we've provided in-depth answers for these questions; information that will help you get started on the path to becoming an administrative director. We've also included helpful information about this career, such as how much you can expect to earn as an administrative director, what career advancement possibilities exist in this field, and much more!



Education Needed to Get Into This Field

There are no industry-wide formal education requirements for becoming an administrative director. The educational requirements are set by each individual employer, and may vary considerably.


The position of "Administrative Director" is typically considered a senior-level role, and for this reason employers typically hire candidates who can demonstrate high levels of competence in areas of business administration. These level of competence are typically achieved as the result of a related education, related work experience, or a combination of both.


Some employers may hire candidates with little formal education, provided they have years of relevant administrative experience. Other employers however, will require candidates to have an undergraduate or graduate degree in a field such as:


• Business Administration

• Finance

• Law

• Management

• Public Relations





Experience You'll Likely Need 

The amount and type of work experience needed to become an administrative director can vary considerably from one job to the next.


A position as an administrative director is considered a senior-level position, and as such, employers typically either require years of experience in administrative jobs of increasing responsibility, or the equivalent in education. The ideal candidate will likely have a combination of both.


It is entirely possible for you to get into this field with little or no formal education, provided you amass a great deal of experience in different roles, and demonstrate professional competence, throughout your career.


For example, you may start in an organization with the title of Administrative Assistant, then move into a position such as Human Resources Coordinator, then onto Human Resources Manager, and ultimately end up as Administrative Director.


Having an advanced education related to business administration, will however, give you a great advantage, and will likely fast-track your career.


Some employers may even offer to pay for your education if you have worked with them for a certain amount of time. From an employer’s perspective, it may be less expensive to groom you into an executive role, than to spend the resources finding an executive who is unfamiliar with the organization.



Skills Needed to Be Successful

There are common skills shared by effective administrative directors, which include:


Leadership and Management Skills: Administrative directors must be able to lead and motivate employees. They must also be able to inspire confidence in their employees, and deal with labor relations issues as they arise.


Analytical Skills: Administrative directors must be able to thoroughly review an organization’s procedures and find ways to improve efficiency.


Computer Skills: Administrative directors need the ability to use various forms of office software with ease. Such software may include spreadsheet, word processing, presentation, and e-mail software (such as Microsoft Office).


Communication Skills: Administrative directors need to be highly effective communicators, as much of their working time is spent communicating direction to employees, and collaborating with other departmental managers. 



Characteristics & Traits Needed

In addition to education and/or experience, you'll need to have certain personal traits and characteristics. These will help you take satisfaction from your career and keep focused on your work, which can help lead to a long and prosperous one.


• Able to provide direct subordinates with strong leadership and direction

• Able to align with the core values and mission of an organization

• Able to effectively deal with pressure and stress

• Enjoy making decisions and coordinating information

• Enjoy administering and controlling budgets

• Willing to put in the necessary hours for completing tasks

• Able to stay focused on, and work towards, long-term career goals

• A firm commitment to professional development

• Not afraid to seize opportunities for advancement when they arise





Who Creates Jobs for Administrative Directors?

Jobs for administrative directors are typically on a full-time basis, and can be found with virtually any kind of organization, within any industry.


Such jobs are most commonly found with medium and large-sized organizations, as the organization needs to have a sizeable administrative staff base in order to necessitate having an administrative director.


Organizations that hire administrative directors include:


• Municipal, provincial/state and federal government agencies

• School districts

• Local, regional and federal health authorities

• Local, regional and federal law enforcement agencies

• Transportation companies

• Travel and tourism companies

• Banks and financial firms

• Large professional service firms, such as legal firms

• Energy companies

• Business-to-business service and goods providers

• Colleges and universities

• Manufacturing and distribution companies

Amateur and professional sports teams and leagues

• Non-profit organizations



Putting it all Together: Steps for Becoming an Administrative Director

To sum all of this up, here are the essential steps you’ll need to take to get into this field:


Step 1 - Check if you’re well suited

Are you willing to put in long hours and make tough decisions? Are you able to align with the goals and culture of an organization? Can you deal with pressure and stress effectively? If you’ve answered “yes” to these questions, then off to step 2.


Step 2 - Get an undergraduate degree

Although the specific degree you will need isn’t set in stone, a degree in management, business administration, finance, public relations, human resources, and similar fields are very helpful in preparing you for this career.


Step 3 - Get experience

Administrative Director is a senior-level position. For this, you’ll need to acquire at least a few years of progressive experience, and demonstrate competence and initiative along the way. You may have to start all the way at the bottom (depending on how tough the job market is), as a secretary or admin assistant, and gradually work your way up. You may luck out and start a little higher up, and your luck will certainly be assisted by an undergraduate or graduate degree.


Step 4 - Get a graduate degree

Rather than experience (or in addition to it), having a graduate degree in one of the above-mentioned fields will also help you develop core skills, knowledge and competencies needed to do this job. Ideally, you’ll have both experience and education. Depending on how long you’ve been with your employer, or what kind of plans they’re grooming you for, they may even help finance your graduate degree.


Step 5 - Spot advancement opportunities

As you begin to gain more experience, keep an eye out for job openings in the next tier. Warning: do not continually hop from job to job; ensure you’ve mastered one before moving on to the next. With some luck, a few timely job openings, and a lot of competence and dedication shown, you should be able to advance to the top administrative position, even if it’s with an outside organization. 





Details of the Career: Job Description

Administrative directors are responsible for the management of all aspects of organization’s administrative functions. This may include overseeing departments such as staffing, facilities, telecommunications, information systems, purchasing, and other areas.


Their scope of responsibility typically includes working in conjunction with other members of the executive management team, and possibly the board of directors, in order to develop and implement administrative and operational plans for the departments they oversee.


They must work to ensure the plans are closely tied to the overall strategic plan of the organization, and develop, administer and manage the operational budgets of their departments. 



General Job Duties

• Liaise with senior management to refine and develop services and programs

• Contribute to the recruiting and orientation of Board members and other volunteers

• Hire, train and supervise employees

• Provide coaching and guidance to employees and volunteers when necessary

• Work with the Board and advisors to the Board to create job descriptions and evaluation processes for all paid and unpaid positions in the organization

• Create policies and procedures manuals for the organization’s programs

• Provide regular supervision of programs to ensure their quality and effectiveness

• Work closely with the treasurer or other management to ensure the timely development of budgets for the organization and individual programs

• Ensure compliance with all legal requirements

• Ensure transparency of all financial information

• Ensure timely internal and external reporting



Typical Work Environment

Working Hours: Most administrative directors work at least 35-40 hours per week, from Monday to Friday. It is however, fairly common for them to work overtime, which may include evenings and weekends.  


Work Setting: These professionals most commonly work in office environments. They don’t often have to travel for work, although it may be required of them from time to time, depending on the needs of the employer. For example, they may work in the head office of an organization, and may be required to visit branches of the organization, in order get a first-hand look at operations, and attend meetings with branch managers and personnel.


Working Conditions: Administrative directors spend a good amount of their time working in their office, in front of a computer or on the phone. They often attend meetings, and tour their building in order to speak with other departmental managers. 



How Much Do They Make?

The salary level of administrative directors can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Their level of education

• Their level of experience

• The specific responsibilities of their job

• The size and type of their employer

• The region in which they work


Salary - Alberta: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Senior Government Managers and Officials occupational group earn an average salary of $154,827 per year.


Salary - United States: According to the 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics survey, the median salary level of American workers in the Administrative Services Managers occupational group is $86,110 per year.



Administrative Director Jobs

Our job board below has "Administrative Director" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.





Career Advancement Opportunities

A job as an administrative director is one that is typically considered a senior-level role. However, there is room for advancement from this position, into positions of greater responsibility.


For example, those whom display the most competence among executives in their organization may become board members of the organizations they serve. They may also move into chief executive roles, such as Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), or Chief Executive Officer (CEO).


Experienced administrative directors may also join or establish a management consulting firm to provide administrative management services to other organizations on a contract basis.



Similar Occupations in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to this one, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Administrative Assistant

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

City Manager

Human Resources Manager

Office Manager




References for this Career Guide

The following resources were drawn from in the preparation of this career guide:


• “Occupational Profile: Chief Administrative Officer.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved August 15, 2016.

• “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Administrative Services Managers.” (May, 2015). United States Department of Labor - Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved August 15, 2016.



Scholarships for Relevant Majors

Looking for Canadian or American scholarships to help you on your way to becoming an administrative manager? We’ve got you covered! Here's how to find the best-suited scholarships:


• On, our scholarship listings are sorted by major

• The “Relevant Majors” section below shows what majors apply to this career

• Search scholarships by major on our Business Administration Scholarships, Management Scholarships and Organizational Leadership Scholarships pages


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for getting into this field. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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